Sunday, 31 August 2008
Yeah, and how do you like that "The Western-Super-Mare work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction", eh?
Venereal disease, prophylactics, prostitutes
SYPHILIS Everybody is more or less infected with it.
DEBAUCHERY Cause of all the diseases from which bachelors suffer.
MERCURY Kills the patient with the disease.
COPAIBA BALSAM (COPAHU) Pretend not to know what it is for.
DEVICE Obscene term.
SHEEP'S GUT Used only to make toy balloons.
PROSTITUTE (COURTISANE) A necessary evil. A protection for our daughters and sisters, as long as we have bachelors. Should be harried without mercy. It's impossible to take one's wife out any more with all these women on the boulevards. Are always working-class girls seduced by wealthy bourgeois.
JOY The mother of fun and games. Never mention her
ODALISK All Oriental women are Odalisks.(See NAUTCH-GIRL.)
NAUTCH-GIRL Word that fires the imagination. All Oriental women are nautch-girls. (See ODALISKS.)
ARTISTS A woman artist must be a whore.
ACTRESSES The ruin of young men of good family. Are terribly lascivious, engage in orgies, run through fortunes, and end up in the workhouse. 'I beg to differ: some make excellent mothers!'
OBSCENITY All scientific words derived from Greek and Latin conceal an obscenity.
ORGASM (JOUISSANCE) Obscene term.
DEVICE Obscene term.
INTRODUCTION (INTRODUCTION) Obscene word.
CIRCUS TRAINERS Use obscene practices.
CONCUPISCENCE Ecclesiastic term for carnal desire.
FUCK (FOUTRE) Use this word only as a swear-word, if at all.
Friday, 29 August 2008
In this fairy tale the environment responds positively or negatively to human good or evil. There is the interplay of personified forces of nature like winds and rivers.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
The Dictionary of Received Ideas (in French, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues) is a short satirical work collected and published in 1911-3 from notes compiled by Gustave Flaubert during the 1870s, lampooning the clichés endemic to French society under the Second French Empire. It takes the form of a dictionary of automatic thoughts and platitudes, self-contradictory and insipid. It is often paired with the Sottisier (a collection of stupid quotations taken from the books of famous writers).
At the time of Flaubert's death, it was unclear whether he intended eventually to publish it separately, or as an appendix to his unfinished novel, Bouvard et Pécuchet. In some of his notes, it seems that Flaubert intended the dictionary to be taken as the final creation of the two protagonists. In other notes, it seems the Sottisier is intended as their final work.
The idea of a spoof encyclopedia had fascinated him all his life. As a child, he had amused himself by writing down the absurd utterances of a friend of his mother's, and over the course of his career he speculated as to the best format for a compilation of stupidities. In a letter to Louis Bouilhet from 1850, Flaubert wrote: "Such a book, with a good preface in which the motive would be stated to be the desire to bring the nation back to Tradition, Order and Sound Conventions—all this so phrased that the reader would not know whether or not his leg was being pulled—such a book would certainly be unusual, even likely to succeed, because it would be entirely up to the minute." He wrote to Louise Colet in 1852: "No law could attack me, though I should attack everything. It would be the justification of Whatever is, is right. I should sacrifice the great men to all the nitwits, the martyrs to all the executioners, and do it in a style carried to the wildest pitch—fireworks.... After reading the book, one would be afraid to talk, for fear of using one of the phrases in it."
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
It was published in book form in 1851, and became an early Victorian classic which sold out three editions. In the "Advertisement to the First Edition," which prefaces it, it is called a fairy tale, one, it might be added, that illustrates the triumph of love, kindness, and goodness over evil.
It was illustrated with 22 illustrations by Richard Doyle (1824-83).
The King of the Golden River would be considered a novelette because it consists of 9,229 words (more than 7,500 but under 17,500).
Monday, 25 August 2008
CHIAROSCURO (CLAIR-OBSCUR) Nobody knows what this means.
CONTRALTO Nobody knows what this means.
PALMYRA An Egyptian Queen? Ruins? Nobody knows.
GENOVEFAN Nobody knows what it is.
PRAGMATIC SANCTION Nobody knows what it is.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE Nobody knows what it is, but shrug your shoulders at any mention of it.
FUGUE Nobody knows what it is, but you must assert that it is extremely difficult and extremely dull.
LUCKY Say of a lucky man: 'He was born with a caul.' You don't know what that means and neither will your listener.
GIAOUR Fierce (farouche) expression of unknown meaning, though it is known to be connected with the Orient.
GOLDEN NUMBER, DOMINICAL LETTER, ETC. On all calendars but nobody knows what it means.
GORDIAN KNOT Has something to do with antiquity.
NECTAR Confuse with ambrosia.
DOCTRINAIRES Despise them. Why? Nobody can say.
INFINITESIMAL Nobody knows what it means, but it has something to do with homeopathy.
JANSENISM Nobody knows what it is but it is smart to refer to it.
BREAD Nobody knows what filth goes into it.
JUJUBE Nobody knows what it is made of.
CAMEL Has two humps and the dromedary only one [yes]; or else the camel has one and the dromedary two [no]-- nobody can ever remember which. [dromedary is a kind of camel, as well]LAW (THE) (LE DROIT) Nobody knows what it is.
Friday, 22 August 2008
WEATHER Eternal topic of conversation.
WINE Topic for discussion among men.
CHIMNEY Always smokes. Subject of discussion about heating systems.
PORT-ROYAL Very smart topic of conversation.
MELON Nice topic for dinner-table conversation. Is it a vegetable or a fruit?
MESMERISM A fine topic of conversation, and one which will help you to charm a woman.
SALON To write a criticism of the Salon is a good beginning in literature; it enables a man to establish his reputation.
HORSEMEAT: Excellent subject for a pamphlet by a man who wishes to make his name.
MAY-BUGS Fine subject for a monograph. Their total extinction is the dream of every prefect.
STUD-FARMS A fine subject for a parliamentary debate.
SAPPHICS and ALCAICS Sounds good in a critical article.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
ARISTOCRACY Despise and envy it.
DOCTRINAIRES Despise them. Why? Nobody can say.
EPICURUS Despise him.
RACE-HORSES: Despise them-- of what use are they?
MAZARINADES [17thC political pamphlets: info] Despise them. No need to know any.
LEARNING Despise it as the sign of a narrow mind.
MUSICIAN The characteristic of the true musician is to compose no music, to play no instrument, and to despise virtuosos.
CHAMPAGNE The sign of a grand dinner. Pretend to despise it, saying: 'It isn't really a wine.' Arouses the enthusiasm of the lower orders.
DESSERT Virtuous persons despise it: 'Pastry! Heavens, no! I never touch it.'
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
BACCALAUREATE Thunder against it.
IMPIETY Thunder against it.
MONOPOLY (STATE) Thunder against it.
WAR Thunder against it.
SYBARITES Thunder against them.
PANTHEISM Ridiculous. Thunder against it.
SOUTHERN COOKING Always full of garlic. Thunder against it.
FEUDALISM No need to have any clear idea what it was, but thunder against it.
ECLECTICISM Thunder against it as being an immoral philosophy.
TIME (OUR) Thunder against it. Deplore the fact that there is nothing poetic about it. Call it a time of transition, of decadence.
WHITEWASH (ON CHURCH WALLS) [Calvinism] Thunder against it. This aesthetic anger is extremely becoming.
DUEL Thunder against it. It is no proof of a man's courage.
CITY FATHERS Thunder against them apropos of the paving of streets: 'What can our city fathers be thinking of!
'DEPUTY Thunder against the Chamber of Deputies. Too many talkers there. They do nothing.
PHILIPPE-ÉGALITÉ Thunder against him. Another of the causes of the Revolution. He committed all the crimes of that dreadful period. [info]
ENCYCLOPÉDIE Laugh at it pityingly for being quaint and old-fashioned, or else thunder against it.
NEWSPAPERS One can't do without them, but thunder against them. Play an important part in modern society: e.g. the Figaro, Serious Journals: the Revue des Deux Mondes, L'Économiste, the Journal des Débats.
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Things to make fun of:
MAGIC Make fun of it.
INNATE IDEAS Make fun of them (les blaguer).
MEDICINE When in good health, make fun of it.
COMETS Make fun of our ancestors who feared them.
METAMORPHOSIS Make fun of the times when it was believed in. Ovid invented it.
ORIGINAL Make fun of everything that is original, hate it, jeer at it, and annihilate it if you can.
FUNNY (DRÔLE) Should be used on all occasions: 'That's funny!'
LEARNED (THE) (SAVANTS) Make fun of them. All it takes to be learned is a good memory and hard work.
GIBBERISH (BARAGOUIN) Foreigners' way of talking. Always make fun of the foreigner who speaks your language badly.
NORMANS Believe that they talk with a broad a and tease them about (les blaguer sur) their nightcaps.
ASTRONOMY An admirable science. Useful only to sailors. In speaking of it, poke fun at astrology.
ENCYCLOPÉDIE Laugh at it pityingly for being quaint and old-fashioned, or else thunder against it.
LEGION OF HONOUR Make fun of it (La blaguer), but covet it. When you obtain it, always say it was unsolicited.
PHILOSOPHY Always snigger at it.
'GODDAM' The basis of the English language, as Beaumarchais said. Snigger in a superior way.
LITTRÉ Snigger on hearing his name: 'The gentleman who thinks we are descended from monkeys.
DARWIN The fellow who says we're descended from monkeys.
WAGNER Snigger when you hear his name and joke about the music of the future.
SCUDÉRY Snigger, without knowing whether the name is that of a man or a woman.
SALTCELLAR Upsetting it brings bad luck.
THIRTEEN Avoid being thirteen at table; it brings bad luck. The sceptics should not fail to joke: 'What's the difference? I'll eat enough for two!' Or again, if there are ladies present, ask if any is pregnant.
The second time I read it, I was laughing. This guy was such a fucking nebbish.
He goes to Moscow to meet this woman Asja Lacis; she’s just had a nervous breakdown, her kid is sick, and she’s having two other affairs. One of them is this guy Bernhard Reich, who’s been selected to be Benjamin’s translator. And this other little babe is trying to hook up with Benjamin all the time.
He writes, like, ‘One time I was hanging out with Asja, and she said she hoped that the next time I saw her I was fit enough to be at her every day. . . . I said, I will never be that until we resolve the other difficulties in this relationship. And afterwards I couldn’t get to sleep.’"
Friday, 15 August 2008
James Hawes, a Kafka expert and novelist, claims in his book Excavating Kafka, published in Britain yesterday, that the writer was a subscriber to upmarket pornography. Furious German academics reacted by accusing Hawes of prudishness, sensationalism and even antisemitism.
"Hawes has given us a look through the keyhole of a Kafka with his trousers down ... but to call the illustrated magazines he subscribed to as hardcore porn, is like comparing a poem by Heinrich Heine with an advertising slogan for McDonald's," wrote Anjana Shrivastava, a Kafka researcher on Spiegel Online, calling Hawes a "prude". She said he had made himself a "preacher of hate" in the world of Kafka scholars.
Critics also dismissed Hawes' claim that Kafka kept his pornography under lock and key in a safe on his bookshelf, saying it contained instead a savings book he did not want his family to know about.
The legendary German Kafka critic Klaus Wagenbach, who has published numerous coffee-table books on the Prague-born writer and made mention of the pornographic images in a book he published in 1958, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine: "This is some idiot ... who knows nothing about Kafka, but writes about him as if he did."
Rainer Stach, a Kafka biographer, said the furore surrounding the book was an "unbelievable marketing ploy". No one had ever said Kafka was pure and chaste, but the "pornographic" pictures were "playful representations, some styled like caricatures".
At the focus of Hawes' investigation are pictures he stumbled across in the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford of the pornography to which Kafka subscribed while in his twenties. They include images of a hedgehog-style creature performing fellatio, golem-like male creatures grasping women's breasts with their claw-like hands and a picture of a baby emerging from a sliced-open leg.
But Hawes, an Oxford graduate who teaches creative writing at Oxford Brookes University hit back at his critics, claiming that none of them had read his book and accusing them of operating a "conspiracy of censorship". He said he had made no claims to have discovered Kafka's penchant for pornography and brothel visits, but had explored why Kafka scholars had chosen to virtually ignore the topic.
"We're talking about a writer whose psyche the experts have been so keen to decipher. They have pored over every memorandum he ever wrote, every insurance report he ever compiled, looking for clues. Yet they have chosen not to show this undoubtedly very dark stuff," he told the Guardian.
"I don't remotely claim it's a discovery of mine, but I was genuinely shocked when I first saw it, because I had never seen it in any academic biography of Kafka. The experts' conspiracy of censorship is entertainingly curious."
The angry response to Hawes' book has extended to accusations of antisemitism. Shrivastava said Hawes was more interested in "speculating about whether or not Kafka masturbated" than exploring theories that the Jewish writer, who died before the Holocaust, had foreseen it.
Hawes said the antisemitic claims were "outrageous and extraordinary ... The Holocaust happened after his death, so it's ridiculous to talk of his works in that light," he said.
But one German critic at least, welcomed Hawes' book. "We are devastated and furious, but at the same time happy," wrote Ulrich Weinzierl in Die Welt. "Finally the literary stylite has fallen from his pedestal ... and is as much a sinner as you or I."
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
For Aragon, the arcades were artificial grotto's which held the promise of chance sexual encounters and unusual visual juxtapositions. Dens of prostitutes, idlers and shoppers.
For Walter, the "reader penetrates the book and absorbs and assimilates it".
Walter reproaches himself for having "read too much, of having sinned through an excess of reading."
Sunday, 10 August 2008
For a writer with Benjamin’s interests and allegiances, a rendezvous with hashish was inevitable. The surprising thing is that it took him until the age of thirty-five to try it. As early as 1919, he had been fascinated by Baudelaire’s “Artificial Paradises,” in which the poet issues warnings against the drug so seductive that they sound like invitations: “You know that hashish always evokes magnificent constructions of light, glorious and splendid visions, cascades of liquid gold.”
Over the next seven years, Benjamin participated in drug sessions as either subject or observer at least nine times, but his attitude toward drugs remained vigilantly experimental. He seldom took them when he was alone, and he never had his own supplier, relying on doctor friends to procure hashish, opium, and, on one occasion, mescaline. The sessions were recorded in “protocols,” furnishing raw material for what Benjamin intended to be a major book on the philosophical and psychological implications of drug use. When, in a letter to Gershom Scholem, his best friend from the age of twenty-three, Benjamin, then forty, listed four unwritten books that he considered “large-scale defeats”—evidence of the “ruin or catastrophe” that his career had become—the last was a “truly exceptional book about hashish.”
Nearly three-quarters of a century later, a book by Walter Benjamin called “On Hashish” has finally appeared in English, along with another long-gestated work, “Berlin Childhood Around 1900”. “On Hashish” is not, however, the “truly exceptional book” he had in mind; it’s a miscellany, gathering the protocols of his drug experiments, two published accounts of his experiences, and a handful of references to drugs culled from his other works. It can only begin to suggest the true importance of drug experiences for the development of Benjamin’s thought.
The period of Benjamin’s adulthood and achievement was 1914 to 1940, the darkest in modern European history, and, if no one ever wrote criticism the way he did, it is because no other critic felt the dislocations of the time so severely. Benjamin was born in Berlin in 1892, into a prosperous Jewish family, and his expectations were formed in the halcyon period before 1914. In “A Berlin Chronicle,” a series of newspaper articles that make up the nucleus of “Berlin Childhood Around 1900,” he remembered the feeling of bourgeois security that suffused the very furniture in his family’s apartment:Here reigned a species of things that was, no matter how compliantly it bowed to the minor whims of fashion, in the main so wholly convinced of itself and its permanence that it took no account of wear, inheritance, or moves, remaining forever equally near to and far from its ending, which seemed the ending of all things.
In such a home, poverty was unimaginable: “The poor? For rich children of his generation, they lived at the back of beyond.”
In time-honored fashion, Benjamin hoped to abandon the commercial milieu of his father, a successful antiques dealer, for a more prestigious career as an academic. By the time the First World War began, he was already committed to a life of scholarship and, as an opponent of the war, felt no qualms about maneuvering to get out of military service. The best source for Benjamin’s life in these years, Gershom Scholem’s moving yet unsentimental memoir, “Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship,” records that the two of them stayed up the whole night before Benjamin’s draft-board medical exam, “while Benjamin consumed vast quantities of black coffee, a practice then followed by many young men prior to their military physicals.” The trick, calculated to simulate a weak heart, worked, and Benjamin was able to spend the rest of the war in Switzerland, studying for his doctorate at the University of Bern.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Benj prepared 30 radio broadcasts for German Radio between 1929-1932 specifically for children, maybe 7-14 or so, each consisting of a 20 minute talk or monologue. A main emphasis was on introducing the youth to various, some of them classical, natural catastrophes, for instance the Lisbon earthquake of the 1750's that so shook the optimism of Voltaire and the century (Aufklarung für Kinder [Enlightenment for Children] was the name of the series in German), a flood of the Mississippi of 1927, the Pompeii disaster as came through the famous letter of Pliny the Younger; another subject was various episodes of lawlessness fraud and deceit, much of it recent, for instance bootlegger's boats that were bringing rum or whatever to America through the prohibition blockade, postage stamp (and cancellation) counterfeiting, the 'miracles' of Faustus; or in a minor key that Mehlman makes much of, through an analysis developed on basis of Freud's Jokes and the Unconscious, "tea" that's sold to passengers at a stop of a liquor-less train, with the understanding that it's really booze, but which turns out to be tea as in Freud's "you told me you were going to Cracow thinking that I would assume Lemberg, but you're really going to Cracow, so why are you lying to me!" In short, lots of funny little stories, cute aperçus and deconstructing allusions, with also some strange dog stories, illustrating the loyalty of man's best friend as opposed to treachery of the other humans.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
"The victim was stabbed to death in the apartment she shared with Santos. Police found the victim's torso in a black suitcase that had been dumped beside a river on the city's outskirts. There was no sign of the head, arms or lower legs.
"I don't even know how many times [I stabbed her]," Santos said. "It was more than once. I only stopped when she was dead. I had to get rid of the body quickly. The only way out was to cut her up, wasn't it? It was just like cutting a piece of meat."
The victim had walked out on Santos a week before her death after an argument, and moved in with friends. On the Saturday of her murder, Santos allegedly called her on her mobile phone, claiming he wanted to make up. According to a female friend who was with the victim at the time and has now fled the city in fear, Santos invited her to a party at his 13th-floor flat that evening.
On Sunday, after returning from the party, Santos allegedly set about hiding the body. Using the same kitchen knife he had used to kill her, he hacked off her head, arms and lower legs, before driving to at least two different parts of town and abandoning them near the rivers that flow away from the city."
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Monday, 4 August 2008
But he was also a Jew in Nazi Gemrany, who fled to Nazi France. Great Man done in by the cruel hand of History or petulant artiste dying of his own ineffectuality? Benjamin's death was even sadder and more ridiculous: If Benjamin hadn't OD'd on morphine it's likely he would have made it out of France and spun out the war in the relative comfort of the US working on his book, talking about important stuff with other intellectuals.